Category Archives: Team Development
Many of us understand that the job market is a tough, competitive one. In the pursuit for good talent, it’s necessary to stand out in order to attract solid candidates.
However, if you look closely at your hiring criteria, you may find that you’ve set too stringent a criteria for your search and restricting or excluding the people who may be the best match for your organization.
Look at your hiring and job descriptions then see if any of these key phrases appear:
- XX years of YY industry experience
- XX years of <specific> regional management preferred
- Knowledge of Excel, Powerpoint, Word
- Experience using ZZ system (usually a CRM, SaaS, other technical interfaces)
- XX years working for AA or BB company/or in AA or BB operations/systems
- Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s preferred
- Extensive contacts and network in the industry
Now at first glance these seem like necessary skills that a candidate needs to possess. But dive a little deeper and ask a few questions respectively:
- Industry experience – Can someone from an ancillary industry serve in the same capacity with the same impact?
- Regional management – Does someone who is highly effective managing a team of 5 qualify them for managing a team of 50?
- Excel, PPT, Word – Do these still matter today? Do these need to be mentioned?
- Using a system – can someone who is competent learn your system?
- Working for a specific company – Does this shows preference and bias to an internal candidate? Or, can someone learn internal operations quickly and still effect needed change?
- Degree required, preferred – If the right candidate emerges without this, will you disqualify them?
- Contacts in the industry – Does this “rainmaker” bring the right customers into the pipeline? Do you show a red flag for not generating leads or other internal warning signs?
The core question at the root of all of these is this:
Are you being too stringent in your own prejudices and hiring biases that you’re neglecting great talent?
I’ve worked with many companies and managers who let sharp talent slip past them because they carved out and restricted otherwise matching talent because they didn’t fit a certain pre-conceived mold.
In fact, I had one manager say she wasn’t going to hire a customer service person because there was a spelling error on her application!!
Yes, certain non-negotiable traits must be met. But how many do we place in our hiring process, and particular our ATS, that are kicked out because they aren’t – in what we and/or the ATS deem – the “right fit”.
Most hiring is like an iceberg. That top 10% is skill and the below the surface is the 90% behaviors that you can’t see at first. You only see the top 10% of what the person shows and neglect the 90% of who they are. And our hiring processes only are targeted for that 10% and leave the other 90% untouched. It’s that 90% that can tell you more accurately what a candidate brings to the table.
A former colleague of mine was refused an interview as he was told he didn’t have the needed experience. When they called him on the phone to inform him, he went down the job description and asked them line by line what the’re looking for, then matched it up with what his style and behaviors have accomplished. After each line, they admitted that he did have the relevant talent they were looking for. They scheduled an interview and he got the position after all.
Whether you’re looking at internal or external candidates, don’t restrict your chances to finding the right fit by narrowing your search. Have high standards, but open up the parameters to capture as many people as you can in the queue. Then you can use your standards to select the best from among them.
One of my favorite pastimes during college was a bunch of my buddies playing a baseball simulation game called “Baseball Challenge”. This was a board game from the late 70’s/early 80’s that was a lot of fun and heavy on real-life game simulation.
One of the mechanics in the game was at certain times a fielder could make an “Extra Effort” roll to make a failed play into a successful one. This was always fun part of the game and many a game outcome was changed because the fielder made the “extra effort”.
Whether your workplace is one for gamification or not, Extra Effort is something every leader should strive for, both within themselves and each person on their team.
Extra effort can be a game changer for a variety of reasons:
- It can build customer loyalty instead of leaving a lukewarm experience
- A sale or new account can be won out from a competitor’s bid
- Employees can be converted from passives to promoters
- Difficult goals that may not be met can be attained
- Teams can ride out dry spells in revenue or innovation
Leadership should define what extra effort should look like. It’s more than just working 12 hours a day, and then taking work home at night (a poor work-life balance example). Whether it’s to “embody the values“, put forth resolve, or stick out the right course of action, you can instill the proper mindset of giving extra in even the smallest of actions.
Some suggestions on giving extra effort for both yourself and an example to your teams:
- Making another sales call before wrapping up for the day
- Spend 5 extra minutes to review your presentation
- Taking time out to connect with a customer or employee
- Doing a quality check on products before shipping
- Touching base with staff in a department for 10-15 minutes
- Having a follow-up call on a customer to ensure follow-through after the sale
- Sending a “Thank You” card or email to every job candidate
- Reading your emails for spelling and context before sending
- Spending a few moments working alongside your staff
There are so many ways to give “Extra Effort”. It’s a matter of finding a need and giving up something of smaller value for something that will have a greater return. Not necessarily an immediate or tangible return, but one that will build more value to those within your organization and those your organization serves.
(racing image: healthworksergo; baseball challenge: kypris.com)
Over a decade ago a restaurant company had a change in executive leadership, with the former founder and CEO stepping down into partial retirement.
The new CEO vowed to take the company into a new direction, and promptly stepped on the accelerator. He implemented weekly initiatives, operational overhauls, off-hours conference calls, and a myriad of new strategies that were totally foreign to the managers in the field.
Beyond that, his vision for the company was taking the concept into a different direction in order to “modernize” the brand.
As these changes were being implemented, the new CEO took his leadership team around to tour all the restaurant locations. This included the former CEO who was on in an advisory capacity.
When they arrived at our location (with a lot of pomp) I asked the former CEO how he was doing in the transition. He quietly pulled me aside and said, “I retired to take it easy; I’ve never worked so hard in my entire life, and I worked hard to get this company on the map”. He also indicated to me that the managers and employees were feeling the same, and that something needed to change quickly or else the company was going to struggle.
Fast forward about 6 years later – the company had a mass exodus of managers leave (headhunters found the company to be ripe for recruiting), new restaurants with a modern design and lots of capital investment to build had shuttered their doors, and the company filed for bankruptcy. As of today, the organization has less than half of it’s locations from that time period, and is struggling to seek relevance in today’s marketplace still.
The overall reason for the poor performance? The company had a vision to transform their brand, but moved way too fast ahead of what they had for people resources and failed to connect their plans with what the employee base could understand and execute.
The leadership team determined to go after these changes, but failed to recognize that with already busy staff throughout the company, that the extra work and learning needed would have to require something more than just an “open the box and plug it in” strategy.
What also was a big miss was the new CEO gave weekly voice mail messages (calling them “hospitality chats”) on Sunday evenings. These were ill-timed for one as most general managers were off on Sunday’s (and could only access the calls from a work phone). But these calls were more of a theoretical motivator rather than giving the nuts-and-bolts of what needed to be done.
Also, the new leadership failed to bring everyone into cultural alignment. The managers came away with varying understanding of the new brand, the term hospitality, and how to implement the new steps into play. This created an inconsistent customer experience from unit to unit. Coupled with the fact that the manager’s struggled to find time to execute these initiatives properly, these factors led to a sharp performance and revenue decline.
Finally, the new CEO abused the Jim Collin’s term from Good to Great of “on the bus or of the bus” meaning (in his words publicly across the company) that if managers can’t execute these new steps we’ll just move on with new people. This sent a level of resentment to the managers and drove them to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
The lessons learned from this situation is to make sure that your strategy to grow and strengthen your market presence and brand meet the following criteria:
- Understand the pace of your people and bring them along accordingly.
- Make sure your newest employee and your most senior executive can be on the same page vision-wise.
- Don’t think the new systems will ferret out “weak links” as you may lose good people who would otherwise be your champions with the right training and support.
- Don’t alienate your core customer because you have a vision of something new and shiny. If at all possible, incrementally integrate these new initiatives, or consider a separate brand or segment to capture that new audience.
- Stay connected with your culture and make sure you understand the pulse of your people.
- As a new leader to an organization, your core first step is to build a team around your before you build a following.
Great leaders can know to build a solid understanding and team before making sweeping changes. Getting too far ahead of your people will result in collapse and failure every time.